Triple Salmon Nirvana, March 2017

This is a new one. Regular readers will be aware of triple pork nirvana. Today it was something different. Triple salmon nirvana.

We started our day with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, usually an Xmas Day breakfast staple, but here expanded to Mrs MOFAD’s birthday breakfast.

For lunch, we had afternoon tea at the Shard, which featured smoked salmon sandwiches:-

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We were pretty full after that lunch, and our plans for a pub tea were curtailed. So instead we sought out something to eat on the train home. I opted for this tasty M&S Japanese sushi salmon selection.

This was the perfect way to achieve triple salmon nirvana, although it’s not something I’ll get the chance to do very often I’m sure!

Afternoon tea, Aqua Shard, London, March 2017

We do enjoy a spot of afternoon tea. Normally it’s in slightly more low key surroundings, but today is Mrs MOFAD’s birthday, and we wanted something special to celebrate. I booked this a few months in advance, and even though it was just an “ordinary” Tuesday, it was just as well that I did because it soon got very busy very quickly.

After a relaxed morning of present opening, breakfast and then an easy train journey (despite East Midlands Trains doing their best to spoil it by screwing up their reservations again), we were soon at London Bridge station, and outside the Shard. We stood and gawped for a little while and then entered the gift shop. Let’s get the Shard facts out of the way and then move on to lunch.

The Shard is a 95-storey skyscraper in Southwark, London. It is 309.7 metres (1,016 ft) high, currently the tallest building in the United Kingdom, the fourth tallest building in Europe and the 107th tallest building in the world. That will change soon I’m sure.

The glass-clad pyramidal tower has 72 habitable floors, with a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the 72nd floor, at a height of 244.3 metres (802 ft). It was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano and replaced Southwark Towers, a 24-storey office block built on the site in 1975.

So, there are the facts, let’s move on to our visit. You arrive at the ground floor, after a short stroll from London Bridge station. You can have a look around the gift shop if you’ve got some time to spare. When you’re ready, you are greeted in the lobby, and then your bags go through an airport-style x-ray scanner. Once they pass, you enter the lift and zoom up 31 floors to Aqua Shard.

We ordered the full afternoon tea experience for our lunch, and spent two hours leisurely grazing our way through it, accompanied by a glass of champagne and infinite tea.

Here is the tower of cake (more on those later).

There’s a huge selection of teas to choose from but we kept it trad with some English breakfast style teas, and they just kept on topping them up with as much tea as you want. You can also spot chocolate/meringue lollipops, more on those later too.

A slightly blurry sandwich shot next, some very traditional ones in this line up. Smoked salmon and cream cheese, cheese and pickle, egg, bacon and tomato, and cucumber on rye bread. This was the first plate, another was to follow.

Some cakes next, a light sponge with chocolate and caramel, and a shard of chocolate on the outside. If you have a restaurant in the Shard, you have to have a shard somewhere in your food. You can also see a fruity/moussey/crumbley thing.

No afternoon tea would be complete without freshly baked scones, both plain and with golden raisins. You will note that these are pictured being served correctly, jam first.

More cake? Ok then. A light and fluffy victoria sponge with cream and jam. I’m not sure that the WI would quite approve, but I certainly did.

There has to be a chocolate cake somewhere, and this chocolate brownie with an orange cream was a delicious cocoa-ey bite.

And last but not least, that chocolate meringue lollipop, blurred here to show you the view from the Shard.

The service was relaxed, friendly, unhurried. A comedy French maître d’hôtel kept us entertained, jokingly chastising a junior colleague on a small error, photo-bombing some old ladies’ selfies and just generally keeping things light. No need for lots of starched stuffiness. When you opt for a dining experience like this one, there’s always a worry that you will be made to feel uncomfortable if these surroundings are not places you spend a lot of time in. That was not the case.

Nor were we surrounded by hordes of hooray Henries, which is another potential worry. There were a few corporate lunches going on around us, but the overwhelming majority of tables were filled with couples enjoying a pleasant lunch and relaxing, high above the hustle and bustle of central London.

When the bill arrives (as it inevitably must), it also appears with understated elegance.

And even the view from the toilet is rather splendid.

Just time for one last look down before hopping into the lift and zooming back down to the ground. floor

A fantastic lunch. If you are looking for a special experience for a special occasion, this won’t disappoint. Aqua Shard has put together the right mix of everything to make things feel just right.

Lucy’s on a Plate, Ambleside, January 2017

A change to normal procedures. We find ourselves at Lucy’s on the last night of our holiday, instead of the first. This was by design, as we wanted to indulge on our last night, after plenty of walking.

A simple starter tonight, tasty toasted pittas with houmous, olives and sun dried tomatoes. Light and flavoursome.

Eventually some beer arrived. The Coniston brews were all out of stock (a crime given that they are just a short drive down the A593). I ordered a Hawkshead Lakeland Gold and a Red turned up instead. It had been a long enough wait already, so I had that instead.

On to the main event, a nice piece of crispy skinned salmon with saffron mash, tender stem broccoli and roasted tomatoes. Very nice indeed.

Mrs MOFAD had this very nice prosciutto wrapped chicken dish:-

You have to finish things off with a pudding here, and it was sticky toffee pudding and two spoons. Moist and delicious.

A lovely meal at Lucy’s as usual, we shall always be back. It’s just a matter of when. Another great week in the Lakes comes to an end…

Rose and Crown, Tilshead, September 2016

This is going to be one of those rare posts that does not have a happy ending. It all started happily enough. We were camping nearby (that’s a common sentence for the summer). We had planned to come here for dinner. We had contacted the pub in advance to book a table for fifteen. Would you mind awfully pre-ordering they said. No problem we said. We pre-ordered for fifteen.

We arrived on time and ordered some drinks. A pint of innocence by Plain Ales was my choice, a standard golden ale.

And then 45 minutes later, some pre-ordered porky goodness for Mrs MOFAD, with an Old Rosie cider and apple sauce:-

Fishy goodness for me, supreme of salmon with asparagus and a light creamy cheese sauce:-

Rather a long delay for a pre-ordered set of meals.

The food was good (apart from the lasgne which was a poor effort). The 14 plates that all arrived were good. The fifteenth appeared to have got lost. The pub were adamant that only 14 meals had been ordered. Even when presented with the e-mail that that clearly showed 15 orders. They did relent and cook the missing meal, which eventually arrived after nearly everyone else had finished. But there was no apology. No offer of a free drink. No compensation. No remorse.

We were planning to stay for the rest of the evening, drink some more beer, play some games, have some laughs. But the attitude that we had received didn’t really make us feel like doing that. The waitress and bar staff were lovely, but the landlady was just not interested in her customers.

Very nice food (with one exception), good beer, but a poor attitude make this hard to recommend.